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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
December 02, 2008

Heather Howard

For Further Information Contact:
Dawn Thomas
(609) 984-7160

Commissioner Howard Joins Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey in Announcing New Prenatal Care Services


Paterson–Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard joined Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey (PPNJ) to launch their new prenatal center, which will provide prenatal and postpartum care to more than 600 new moms annually. 


Department of Health and Senior Services provided funding of $170,000 through Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan’s existing grant to establish this prenatal clinic. 


“I'm pleased that we can support Planned Parenthood's efforts to ensure that every newborn has a healthy start in life,’’ said Governor Jon S. Corzine. “Today women in Paterson will have a greater opportunity for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby with these new prenatal services.”


Dr. Rhonda Nichols, Board Certified OB/GYN, Vice President of Medical Services at PPMNJ, said Planned Parenthood Metropolitan “is proud to offer comprehensive obstetrics services to clients in Paterson.”


Today’s visit to Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey is part of Commissioner Howard’s ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the importance of preconception and prenatal health. Since the campaign kicked off in October, Commissioner Howard has been visiting health centers, Women, Infants and Children clinics, and college campuses emphasizing the need for women to maintain a healthy lifestyle before, during and in between pregnancies.


“Early prenatal care is an essential component of a healthy pregnancy. It offers the best opportunity for risk assessment, health education, and the management of pregnancy-related complications and conditions,’’ said Commissioner Howard.


The kickoff of this educational campaign follows the September release of the Prenatal Care Task Force report, which recommended raising awareness of preconception care and family planning services among women before they get pregnant, to ensure women enter pregnancy in optimal health. For more information on the Prenatal Care Task Force report please visit  Also on the web site is a recent television  interview featuring Commissioner Howard talking about the prenatal and preconception health campaign, please visit to view this video.


With nearly one third of all pregnancies in New Jersey unintended, mistimed or unwanted, preconception care is essential for women of childbearing age. Preconception care—before a woman becomes pregnant—provides health promotion, screening and interventions to reduce risk factors that affect pregnancies.


As part of this educational campaign, DHSS will distribute posters, in English and Spanish, highlighting basic recommendations for preconception and prenatal health, such as eating food with folic acid, getting regular checkups and exercising regularly.  The posters will be placed in physician offices, WIC clinics and other areas that women frequent such as hair and nail salons and ladies restrooms. The poster can also be downloaded from the Department web site at


Building on the work of the Prenatal Care Task Force, Commissioner Howard recently was named co-chair of a statewide quality collaborative being led by the New Jersey Hospital Association to improve perinatal care for the state’s mothers and newborns. The Perinatal Learning Cooperative will bring together hospital leaders, physicians, nurses, midwives and others to meet regularly to discuss the problems and challenges in perinatal care.




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